We’ve made it to the second quarter of the 2020 season and the Cleveland Browns have had their best season start in nearly 30 years. The Browns have pulled off some impressive wins already this year and the efforts of the front office are finally starting to come to fruition. This of course includes their passing department led by quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is currently working in his third NFL season and has had his fair share of ups and downs. But today, we’ll take a closer look at how his production this year has influenced the Browns offense in 2020.
Heading into NFL Week 7, the Cleveland Browns are 4-2, which places them at third place in the AFC North division. Things took a bit of a humbling turn last weekend though, with a 38-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers giving the Browns their first loss in five weeks. However, there’s a great chance to get back on track quickly with an upcoming schedule of some seriously winnable games for the Browns offense.
How Baker Mayfield stands on the OVM charts
Where is the most influence coming from for this Browns winning offense right now? The passing game is carrying a heavy workload for the unit, with the leading receivers averaging an overall OVM grade of 31.08. This compares to the 9.90 OVM average between the two leading running backs for the Browns.
The Offensive Value Metric (OVM) was created to provide a numerical scale to measure the overall value that an individual player provides to his offensive unit. A player with a higher OVM grade isn’t necessarily a higher skilled player, but they do create more offensive production for their team than a player with a lower OVM.
Baker Mayfield’s production on the year so far has created an overall OVM of 25.51. This is a good level of production for an NFL quarterback on the metric and is right in line with the type of value we find with the top QBs. Something to note is that the receivers have a higher OVM rating than Mayfield. This illustrates that a larger share of the positive yardage is coming after the catch and not before.
The good, the bad, and the ugly for Baker Mayfield
Where Mayfield stands out is in some specific NFL NextGen stats that are most influential on his individual showing. This includes his aggressiveness on passes (18.8%), which is the seventh-best in the NFL, his intended air yards (9.0), which is 11th-best, and his completed air yardage (7.5), that is fifth overall. For downfield passes, Mayfield is one of the best in the league this year.
The numbers on his stat lines are good on the year so far. Mayfield has completed 103 passes to his receivers for 1,095 total yards. Those attempts include 10 passing touchdowns — tied for 12th most among QBs. His average passer rating is 84.3 and his yards per attempt is just north of six yards per pass.
But of course, there is some criticism to be had, because being a leader in aggressive passing can bring some inaccuracy with it. Mayfield’s completion percentage is not great. He’s currently showing a completion percentage of just 60.59%. This is the seventh-worst completion percentage in the NFL. The interceptions are piling up already too. His six interceptions are the fifth-highest for QBs this year.
This past weekend’s loss was Mayfield’s worst game on the season. He only managed to complete 10 attempts for 119 yards. He also had two interceptions and a passer rating that was an ugly 54.9.
There’s still a great opportunity for Cleveland in 2020
Overall, Mayfield’s downfield passing has been good this year, but he does get bailed out quite often by the performance of his receivers at the other end of the play. He also has a nasty habit of trying to force plays, and that has caused some detrimental mistakes in must-have situations. This is a gamble that rewards him with some impressive completions if it pays off, but in too many cases already this season, it gets expensive if it doesn’t work out.
As was mentioned earlier, the Browns and their offense have a real opportunity to get back on track over the coming weeks. Their upcoming schedule includes the Bengals, Raiders, Texans, Eagles, and Jaguars. These aren’t guaranteed wins by any means but can be winnable games if the Browns offense can limit their mistakes.
Mayfield needs to head into these games with a different mindset than he had last weekend. He has to focus more and not try to force passes as often. When it comes to downfield passing, he is one of the best in the league right now, which is always a good sign. If he can just find a way to limit the miscalculations, the Browns have a real opportunity to head into the home stretch with a winning record for the first time in decades.